Tide's Hardest Worker?

This story was supposed to be a heads-up about a player who might be close to working his way into the two-deep rotation in Alabama's defensive backfield in the next couple of weeks, but Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Joe Kines turned the story on its head.

"Chris Rogers is going to be the next Ramzee Robinson…," Kines said. Reporters ears perked up, "…as far as working goes."

Still, that's pretty good. Robinson is known as one of the hardest workers on the team. He won the 2004 "Jerry Duncan I Like to Practice" spring award and he's played and practiced through a lot of pain over the past couple of years.

Kines launched into a story dating back to last fall. Rogers was already designated as a redshirt and he wasn't on the dress roster. The team, Kines said, was on its way to the hotel for a pre-game meal, when Kines forgot something in his office and doubled back to pick it up.

"I look outside and Chris is there going over the hurdles," he said. "Here we are fixing to play a game and he's out there working… That's what's really helped him."

Sometimes it really is what you do when you think no one's watching that makes a difference.

Mike Shula one-upped Kines when talking about Rogers later in the day. He said Rogers had played well, and that he is "probably the hardest worker on the football team."

Ramzee Robinson chimed in, "Chris learned that hard work pays off. He has been working his butt off. It's great for this unit. He's got his mind right."

Rogers has steadily gotten more work as fall camp has gone along. The redshirt freshman is behind Robinson and Simeon Castille, and battling with Lionel Mitchell, Eric Gray and a handful of freshman for playing time at either cornerback this season. He's worked at left corner, right corner and some at nickel back. The secondary depth chart doesn't have rigid lines past the starters.

What was known about Rogers before this week was his affable personality. He loves talking. He loves football. And he loves talking football.

"I love to hit," he said. "I love Jason Allen. I'm not a Tennessee guy, but I like the way he came up and hit." Agreed. Jason Allen was a heckuva football player, worthy of respect beyond the team he played for.

There should've been some clues about Rogers' work ethic. He's physically one of the most well-defined players on the team. He's always looking for repetitions in practice, and was at even the more sparsely attended early summer pass skeletons.

"Basically I felt like I had a lot to prove," he said. "I let a lot of people down back home."

That sounds odd, for a freshman to feel that strongly about redshirting, but it's certainly kept Rogers motivated.

"When I first got here I was being over aggressive and trying to make plays all over the field," he said. "Coach is giving me a chance and that's all I can ask for. I feel I have been doing good with the chances I've had."

Thanks to that redshirt year - for a year of development and perhaps a little motivation - Rogers has four years worth of chances left in a crimson jersey, and if the work he's done continues, he is likely to make the most of them.

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